Heder (Alfie: The Turtle That Disappeared) imagines what happens when ordinary human beings dance everywhere, for any reason. Things start on the title page as six children groove to a beat. One boy sits way over on the verso, reading a book. “Like this!” says one of the dancers. On the next page, some dancing grown-ups join the party. The boy stands alone, arms crossed. “I don’t,” he says. A girl leaps out behind him. “I do!” she says. “Rick does, too!” says another, pointing to a man with a mop and a pair of headphones. “GO RICK!” says the test, as vignettes show Rick waving his mop. Heder explores dance with pages of graceful, rhythmic watercolors that show people of myriad ages, ethnicities, shapes, and abilities stretching, bopping, spinning, and swaying. Moves executed in exuberance (“Dinos! Robos! Horsies! Dads!”), impulsiveness (“At the market!”), and self-care (“Sometimes you just need to flop around... until you feel better”) climax in a gigantic, inclusive dance party complete with glittery disco ball. Heder’s stream of dancers encourages everyone to find a way to dance—even, perhaps, the most stubborn nondancers. Ages 3–7. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Aug.)
PreS-Gr 1— As the title suggests, a variety of people are asked how they dance in this rollicking new picture book by Heder (Alfie: The Turtle that Disappeared). As the colorful troupe dances through the pages, one curmudgeonly, bespectacled boy stubbornly refuses. After the others show off their different moves and explore where, why, and how they dance, the young boy reveals he wants to be left alone— because the way he likes to dance is alone in his bedroom. The last page reveals the child in a kinetic illustration of him rocking and dancing in the comfort and solitude of his own private space. With energy and spirit, Heder captures the joy of dance and the fluidity of movement in her text and pictures. The illustrations made with pencil and watercolor feature a diverse cast of dancing characters, ranging in age, gender, race, and ethnicity. Toward the end, even dinosaurs, robots, and horses are seen swaying along, adding to the fun. The conclusion, in which the boy finally breaks out of his shell, deftly encapsulates the liberating and exhilarating feeling of dancing. VERDICT This bopping, grooving picture book will inspire readers to get up and dance themselves. Recommended.—Laura J. Giunta, Garden City Public Library, NY
A simple question—"How do you dance?"—meets resistance from one bespectacled youngster, who's surrounded by a diverse, exuberant cast of characters displaying their signature moves in a range of settings and scenarios.
Heder perfectly captures the joy each figure finds in dance with muted watercolor-and-pencil illustrations against a white background. The serif typeface lends an authoritative air to the narrative voice's descriptions of movement while playful hand-lettered text is sprinkled throughout to indicate characters' responses to the "official" text. The typography also works with the book's landscape format to emphasize the ways in which one might move—"FAST FAST FAST" in blurred italics and a drawn-out "sloooo o o o w w w w"—across a horizontal axis. The text's organic, encouraging flow pauses at an official-looking chart that demonstrates such moves as "the swivel," "the toodle," and "the scoot" before taking an unexpected and delightful pirouette into the surreal: A full-bleed spread shows humans, including a dancer in a wheelchair, sharing a dimly lit dance floor (complete with disco ball) with dinosaurs, a robot, and horses. The reluctant dancer, who is not named or gendered by the text, has short dark brown hair and peachy tan skin and wears a green pullover with purple shorts and sneakers.
A gleeful, tender celebration of self-expression through movement, destined to become a favorite read-aloud. (Picture book. 3-8)
"Children and adults of many skin tones, body types, and dance styles boogie through this book. . . Warm and funny, this lively picture book would work equally well as a raucous readaloud and a companion to creative movement activities."